Most everyone knows the old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In a similar vein, strong leadership can make or break a team. Thus, it’s in a company’s best interest to make sure that it invests sufficient resources and time into either locating or cultivating strong leaders.
Of course, determining what qualities make for the strongest leaders can be a topic of some debate. While specific industries may impose their own restrictions and special needs that shape what makes for a valuable leader, there are a few more general soft skills that can help HR and management identify some strong leadership candidates.
This should go without saying, but if employees aren’t able to put faith in their leader, results and overall efficiency will more than likely grind to a halt. As the HR Daily Advisor pointed out, trust and integrity are some of the most important managerial ingredients. Managers are the ones who see the whole picture, and so staff members will need to have an inherent trust placed in their supervisor when their tasks are assigned and when results are evaluated. If employees aren’t able to trust that management has both the good of the company and the good of the workers at heart, business communication skills and overall performance can break down quickly.
A cool head
Regardless of preparation, foresight or skill, sometimes unforeseen circumstances crop up. The best managers aren’t the ones who can prevent such occurrences from happening, but rather the ones who are able to best react when these instances do arise. Forbes reported that the most effective leaders are those who are able to carefully balance the need to respond in a timely fashion to external inquiries with the desire to take all necessary information into account before doing so. While putting out small fires up front can seem like a good idea at the time, responding to press, customers or competitors with incomplete or incorrect facts can lead to much larger headaches down the road. For a leader in a crisis situation, the principal role to be carried out is that of fact finder. After all, without knowing the extent of the situation, it’s nearly impossible to implement a solution.
Employees expect that management’s primary responsibility is to drive results, whether that be increased revenue or improved customer service. But that isn’t to say that a manager should fixate on such metrics at the expense of all other considerations. A business’ most valuable asset is its workforce, and maintaining the health and integrity of your employees is just as important as improving their job performance.
Today’s workplace is more varied than that of previous generations, which means that effective leaders are faced with a wider array of different perspectives to take into account. Making an effort to build greater cultural awareness in an attempt to relate to and welcome multicultural or multiethnic employees is an example of a leadership quality that goes above and beyond simple balancing numbers. Offering such employees the resources needed to do their job is also important, from essential skills learning for specialized positions to language training for staff that may not speak English natively. Providing flexibility for workers who may need it is another path to empathy that employers can follow, for example, accommodating the needs of those employees who have school-aged children or medical concerns.
Employees want to feel like their employer is invested in their growth and development. Leaders who are able to incorporate an attitude of empathy into their management style will be best situated to convey this kind of message.